24 Nights

”Crackling raw excitement,” ”anticipatory glee,” and ”stunning pyrotechnics” are three phrases of absolutely no use to anyone reviewing this new live album by guitarist Eric Clapton. But that’s okay. Clapton’s 24 Nights, recorded during 1990 and 1991 concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall, won’t surprise anybody who has heard one of his records since 1974’s laid-back 461 Ocean Boulevard: As always, his playing is impeccable, his taste is unerring, and his newer material is, sad to say, mostly forgettable. 24 Nights covers his early days with Cream (”Sunshine of Your Love”) and Derek & the Dominos (”Bell Bottom Blues”) as well as his recent orchestral collaborations with keyboardist-composer Michael Kamen (”Edge of Darkness”), while giving his blues side a solid working out — with guitarists Buddy Guy and Robert Cray and pianist Johnnie Johnson. It’s hard to find fault with this well-crafted, thoughtfully assembled collection. But it’s a sad state of affairs for Clapton when the most uplifting moment is instantly provided by pianist Greg Phillinganes, who sneaks in a snippet of Traffic’s ”Glad” 20 seconds into the album and reminds us what a song with a hook really sounds like. B-

24 Nights
  • Music